Monday, February 28, 2005

A Future New York Times Bestseller


I've posted the first chapter of my novella, Adrift on the Mainstream, in the sidebar, immediately following all links.

Please feel free to share any comments/criticism. If you're interested in reading more, I'll happily supply.

~ Connor

Links, New and Old


I have several new links to add... and I need to replace a couple old, that disappeared I know not how or why.

Let's begin with my friend chloegoth at Nifty Catchphrase - We have had many entangled connections over the years... we were residents of the same house (though not at the same time), shared the same comrades, the same scavenger hunts, and in some cases the same fascination with circus freaks and the like. In the end, though, it was our one-year stint roleplaying through the Womwawas Drys that cemented our friendship.
chloegoth has married another friend of mine, and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. This blog is one of her first forays into web adventures, but with selections such as Baton Bob, the is much to hope for here.

Other web meandering have scared up Arjan El Fassed - E Intifada - Arjan is careful in the best sense of the world... not careful in the sense of hesitance or trepidation, but rather his statements are conscious, deliberate and filled with care for his subject. He writes about the situation in the Occupied Territories (and sister sites comment on Iraq and Iran) with an invested perspective that is balanced by a reason and clarity that will make his writing as accessible as they are relevant.

On a somewhat lighter note, Lime - is maintained by Anne, a pastor living in Norway. He writing is as colorful as the blog itself, and when the news and journals of friends and family is filled with stress and struggle, this blog is a welcome stop. Anne writes about nature, religion, and life in Norway with equal vigor.

Finally, a couple of old links disappeared. I'm bummed by this, and don't know what mistake I made. They are Jen - and Helen - The are hereby reinstated with apologies.

~ Connor

Occludine 9, 27.


- Friday after work I had a couple hours, so I went to Marshall Fields on State for a cup of coffee. I love that place... in fact, it's one of my favorite icons of capitalism. There's something a little off-kilter and cool about the emphasis on green, and the marble rails climbing seven stories up the arcade. Also, it's got an older class to it, but can't escape the city grit. The windows of the cafè, seven stories high looking out on State and Washington were streaked with grime. I went to Hyde Park and made Jess and myself a cheese pizza.
- Saturday was role-playing with the Doctors in Blue Island. I had to zoom up to Edgewater to get my character sheet, which I'd left there, and Jess and I were both a little late. Phil's running a Forgotten Realms campaign out of the Silver Marches and yesterday we battled an evil psionicist and his astral constructs, and then later on a million orcs. I'd just reached fifth level, so over course I was levelling everything with Fireballs and Flaming Spheres. Yes, I'm hamming this up to the utmost.
Afterwards, we visited for awhile, and made a stop at J&J Fish. Jess and I dropped Greg off in Hyde Park (following an energized debate on political discourse these days), and he sold me the original White Wolf Wraith Handbook for $8, which is pretty much a steal.
- Sunday continued to be busy, with a small scav hunt meeting at noon at Jess', a Harry Potter Discussion Group (we discussed gender perspectives/biases/issues in the book) at Jimmy's, Mass, and finally a somewhat relaxing evening filled with episodes of Monk.
- WEATHER: It looks like we'll just catch the edge of the monstrous storm I described on Monday. Even Chicago won't be hit that bad.



The New York Times: Insurgents Land Deadliest Blow Since Fall of Hussein's Regime

Spacedog. Stickstuff.

Where were you in '82?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Occludine 6, 27.


- The last 24-hours have been metaphysically surreal in the best sort of way. I got out of work early yesterday - 12:45 - and took care of banking and business. It started snowing and snowed densely through most of the day, but was surprisingly warm for all that. Jessica came over, and I prepared us pasta and garlic bread.
- Recently I've been listening to the 1979 single by Smashing Pumpkins a lot. Cherry and Set the Ray to Jerry. Now those are songs.
- NIGHTMARE: "I had a terrible dream last night. I was in bed "sleeping" and there was a noise from an adjacent appt. Shouting and crying and things crashing and I was sure that someone was being murdered. Far from being a hero, I didn't even call 911 because it would have meant going into the living room which was closer to the mess. For some reason, I thought the door was unlocked, or even open, and that I was at risk.
The only reason, actually, that I can be certain that this was all a dream was because toward the end I cowered between my bed and the wall, and I would have remember had I done this for real."
Additionally, when I woke up from the dream, I wasn't panicked (as I've been in the past) because I remembered that I wasn't alone... that if the dream had been real I could have gone to Sam and asked for help.
The next morning, however, I found Sam's bed empty. He went out last night to see a movie and didn't come home. So I was alone all night.
- FATE: I recently heard a homily discussing the differences between accident, fate, and destiny. Empirically speaking, what I experienced this morning was probably an accident, though spiritually it felt like fate. I was a little blithe getting ready for work, and left at about 7:07... three or four minutes later than is wise, and especially after two days on which I've been late. I feel chagrined as I walk the block to the bus stop at Sheridan and Ardmore. But "no worries," because a 147 is perched a block to the north, ready to pick us up. I was fine after all.
No. I wasn't. Because the bus was suffering some mechanical trouble, and the rest of the disturbed commuters and I strained inpatiently for the better part of ten minutes until the bus groaned by, refusing to stop, evidently returning to the garage. I was doomed.
No. I wasn't. Because another 147 swung into view almost immediately, and picked us up. I made it to work exactly on time, which was important in the end... there was a situation with a patient that required immediate attention, and nobody else had gotten in yet. Since I am the one employee with a consistant startup time from day to day (7:45), I would've been held accountable if the patient had been made to wait.
All in all, a revelatory, humbling, and pulse-jumping series of events this morning.
- WINTER: A few weeks ago, I defended Punxsatawney Phil against that landfill bastard Chuck. I said that Phil was an upright character, reading the signs right even when the results were unpopular. Now I feel vindicated. Next week's going to bring the biggest storm of the winter, even as we settle into March. Go to AccuWeather and check it out. The maps are incredible.
Basically two jet streams will merge and plunge south, and two storms will bury the midwest and the inland south. Then, they'll move northeast and converge on upstate New York, wreaking even more havoc.
- JUPITER: At 5 AM on the 27th, look for Jupiter rising to the southwest, "when it is nearly occulted by a waning gibbous Moon." (Adler Planetarium).
- 100 distinct visitors hit this blog yesterday. It's only the second time that's happened in the rough year I've maintained Blue Skies Falling. Thank you!

Guernsey - British Crown Dependency.


The New York Times: 10 Voters on Panel Backing Pain Pills Had Industry Ties

i woke up to a nightmare.

What was the last nightmare you had?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Okay, I give, I give!


Evidently three people posted their celeb crushes while I was writing the last post.


The new question of the day:

Would you be a DC or a Marvel superhero? (If you like, you can take this a step forward, and name off some of your favorite superheroes...)

~ Connor

Occludine 5, 27.


- Yesterday I was late because I slept through my alarm. Today, early and determined, I hurried out to the stop at 7:03 and boarded at 7:10. But there must've been an accident on Lake Shore Drive, because I were at a standstill, just a few miles from work, for about a half-hour. I finally got in at 8:10, about 25 minutes late. It doesn't seem to have been a disruption, but still...
This is a good example to cite when I tell people that big city living isn't always all it's cracked up to be. My friends and relative think of my life in Chicago, they imagine the spectacular skyline, the culture and life, the different languages. But there are drawbacks; sometimes substantial.
And here is one: Transportation is always more of a gamble, and moving even short distances can be unreliable, expensive, and time consuming. In addition to the $1.75 fee to ride the bus (a little less, becuase I use a monthly pass for $75), my lateness this morning cost me about $4 in missed work, for a total of almost $6.
And that's on top of looking unprofessional.
- The weekend, the weather brings more of the same. The "cold dome" sitting on the whole great lakes region (relative to the rest of the nation) is wreaking havoc with weather on the East coast. Which always feels nice, come to think of it.
- Incidentally, I'm really enjoying getting weather information from AccuWeather -, because unlike most weather sites, they actually explain what's going on. I've also settled on the Adler Planetarium "What's Up" page - for Chicago astronomical events. Michiganders might want to petition Flint's Longway Planetarium to do the same.

The Virgin Islands - Territory of the United Kingdom.


BBC News: Pope readmitted to Rome hospital

Fantastic Landscape with Ruins.

You don't get a question of the day until more of you tell me your celebrity crushes! (viz. yesterday.) So there!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Other Edge


Last night, Sam commented that all the news is bad news.
But it's not all bad news.

If dorms are built in downtown Flint, that will salvage one fatality in Urbàntasm, represented by Northwestern or Southwestern. Central and Northern as still non-negotiable.

~ Connor

Occludine 4, 27.


- I arrived to work 45 minutes late today. In the four months I've been on assignment here, this is the first time it's happened. That said, considering that next three posts took me until 4:30 in the morning, I've only myself to blame.

The Bahamas.

Mischarge. Also here.

New York Times: Allawi Says He Will Challenge Shiite Pick for Prime Minister

Skylab. NASA.

Who is your celebrity crush?

Gothic Funk Manifesto #2



Like Francesco, the Great Cenci, I'm hungry, but 400 years have passed, so let's divide, Mitosic like, this manifesto, into two parts:

Part 1. The Boring Part
Part 2. The Interesting Part

* * * * *


Since the advent of Advent (and most likely even before) we've conceived of ourselves as mini-Messiahs at at least one point. Whether this sleeps in us, drawing breath, dreaming, daily, while we walk through ever more tedius routines (play, chores, school, work, war), or whether it fades due to the tedius routines we walk through, or whether it snaps, lightninglike in calamity, cataclysm, we know.

At four years old and less, sitting on swings, propelled by a twelve-ear old behind us, looking past aluminum siding, plywood playgrounds, and fractions of branches, brown and green in a sky that does not end, we call ourselves God. (The irony is that religious minds, and not bigoted religious minds, but sober minds, might still condemn our vision as blasphemous, weak, and misguided, except we're usually too young for such rebuke when we're willing to admit such thoughts.

But we'll never be closer to God or space, or more obedient).

It's all between atoms. Entropy happens. The fractal edges in everything important do have shapes. They have identities. They proclaim them. But they can only proclaim definitively in formulas at best, under optimal conditions, and even so, what does a formula mean to a human, a person, who really wants food and sex and love and intensity and the Smashing Pumpkins to come together once more?

And if the formula is the best we can expect, in terms of absolutes, under the very best of conditions (if the very best we can expect with certainty, as a description, a manifesto or statement), and if the best is utterly imperfect, insufficient, then what we to do with a comet, a raindrop, a word, a thought, a breath, or a human being? To quote "sweet Marianne" (and to be a sell out, a shell out, you've all shelled out, and don't deny that at least once or twice you liked the movie Titanic) sometimes the trick is in pretending Zen, or practicing as we preach, or not throwing stones because we live in glass houses. But let's be honest: WE NEED TO JUST HOLD DOWN. Do you get this? Do you... HOLD DOWN?

It's a position. It should be called a prayer. You do it in your sleep, but if you do it waking the position is as follows:

1. You crouch, on the bridges of your feet and toes, knees bet, haunches back, butt weighing toward the ground, but balanced. A stance of confort or patience.
2. There is no comfort or patience. This is a position of resistance. Long term resistance. Hold onto the air/floor/carpet/grass. Clench your fists.
3. Lean forward. Look. Always be wary because they are going to snatch you away and destroy you.

So we have to relax into our identity and honestly feel like gods if we want to humble ourselves before any True Movement (and if this were not so, why does every religion stress the special status of humankind (which is simply a matter of degree, not kind), or every philosophy praise our rational skills (which are simply a matter of degree, not kind)). We must apprehend that it is kindred. And we must fight entropy, though we are bound to lose, and by our own experience, at least, that we cling to, to lose by coercion, by inertia, and utter humiliation.

In short, as someone who writes Gothic Funk manifestoes and actually believes in this shit, I urge you, plead with you, beg you, and insist you supplicate and stand tall, (unbowing), before whatever you see IS, and assert that you are all Divine, Ever, and Real. Then your epansion expands, your extension extends, your O opens. There is an occlusion in you. Then we get down to business. Then we sweep, headless, out the door, and our business is important, whether or not they know or care.

In short, in the words of Count Francesco, who once stole a crouton and might murder me if he knew I told you without his explicit permission, there's no escaping the world. NOT FOR US. In this world, our best hope for immortality, a failed escape from history and entropy, IS ONLY the reconciliation of our HUMILITY (often praised) with our AUDACITY (occasially praised, but rarely understood).

Reconcile these: humility and audacity.

Until you do, I will never falter, but Flint, Michigan is certainly all the next Mecca, Rome, and Jerusalem.

* * * * *

Myself, I have developed several separate structures to preserve divinity, and they are rough hewn and theologically, metaphysically, and epistomologically inconsistant.

But I'm a populist, and a true socialist, so who cares?


We cannot escape the world, nor can we escape our linear, mundane perception of time, so let's use these as measures of unique signatue. It means something absolute to us, though it is not absolute, due to our perception. Let's let Allah premeditate, while Jesus weaves his snail shells, and sweet Buddha urges slow and calm breath. Let's open eyes.


There is nothing magical about the number three, but I try to live three times.

As an AMERICAN, I live JULIANTIME, by the months. My favorite months are September, December, February, and April through June. During these months, to signify my recognition, I wear sunglasses ourside when the sun is visible. It shades the scene unfamiliar shades and is a fitting reminder the change is everywhere and that I have the ability to recognize change. In SEPTEMBER, I go to a place, like a K-Mart, and choose what I need. I try to go cheap, but I ask for a calander to track time, an address book to track those with whom I share care, and paper to share the countless moments around me. In DECEMBER, I drive through the city. Because it's good to recognize where I am. In FEBRUARY, I go to parties, because it's good to be around my sisters and brothers, who aren't thinking of higher or lower things, but are dancing and breathing, and doing so, preoccupied with life. In APRIL, I clean, because between the fog and rain of this month (most sacred to me, personally) it's good to sort or one thing from another. In MAY, I hunt, because it's good to make discoveries, even if I do not determine the standard. In JUNE, I go to a Carnival, because this is what the weather is life when people merge, and ferris wheels wheel round and round.

But that is one. There is a second.

As a CHRISTIAN of the CATHOLIC faith. As a THEIST, but most of all, as a BELIEVER and a SEEKER, I live CHRISTTIME, by the seasons. Each season has specific demands, tailored both to me and to others, all tailored to the reconciliation of my mission with others', to my ability to grasp and infuse and be infused by the grasping all about me. All year long I engage in a NIGHTLY PRAYER in which I call blessings down upon the whole of creation, especially my world, especially my friends, especially those most dear to me. Each night I perform the EXERCISE in which I name one wonder of the day that has passed and one tragedy that has passed that day. I go to church on Sundays. I go to church on Feast days. I study the scripture. I confess seven times each year. And during Advent and Lent I say the Rosary and read and study four chapters each day. And during Christmas and Easter, I recite the Litany of Mary and ready and study three chapters each day. And during Winter, and Summer, and Autumn ordinary time, I work on memorization each day and study two chapters each day. And during Advent I select gifts for those dear to me. And during Christmas I receive gifts from those dear to me. And during Left I give Prayer, Fast, and Alms in the hope of being more clear. And during Easter I Party, Feast, and Exult in the hope of knowning the clarity I've achieved. And during Winter Ordinary Time I practice Faith, concretely. And during Autumn Ordinary Time, I practice Hope, concretely. And during Summer Ordinary Time, I practice Charity, Concretely.

But I cannot overemphasize... if you seek with rigor and rain, you will find, and whatever you find is a treasure. We are best when we hold ourselves, when we hold down. This is true for tribal faiths and the self-conceived, the agnostics, the atheists, the Hindus, Buddhists, Christas, Muslims, and all the others. It is true for all who earnestly seek Source. My system is sculpted for me specifically. I may have been born in Flnt, but that fact limits me even as it endows me. Recognize where you are and were.

As CONNOR RYAN COYNE, as the only me that is, I live EVENTIME that I conceived in 6th grade, when I was twelve. There are twelve months: EVENTIDE is two days, SUMMERSEVE (yes, yes, ha, ha, no, it has nothing to do with tampons) for reflection on the year that's passed, and SUMEMRSDAWN for a long walk, many miles. Summersdawn is always the longest day of the year. Then three months: LUMAS, LAURAS, and GLOAMANE. Right now, Lumas is celebrated by dancing in the darkness and wilderness. Right now, Laruas is celebrated by games where we pretend we're someone else on long, warm days, and short, cool nights. Right now, Gloamane, is celebrating is celebrated by writing something pure and intact in a single night. AUTUMNTIDE is a walk, measured from the spring sunset to the spring sunrise. Then three months: GALVANE, GRAVITANE, and NECRUS. Right now, Galane is celebrated by reading a work of immediate poignance and connection. Right now, Gravitane is celebrated by a workshop, in which knowledge is impated from myself to others. Right now, Necrus is imparted by any game in which we convene, and each of us tries to win. SOLSTICETIDE is a walk, measured from the summer sunset to the summer sunrise, on the shortest day of the year. Then three months: NOCTUS, NIMBUS, and OCCLUDINE. Right now, Noctus is an indulgence, spending a considerable amount on books to expand knowledge and consciousness. Right now, Nimbus is an indulgence, spending a considerable amount on music to expand desire and consciouseness. Right now, Occludine is an indulgence, spending a considerable amount on materials to expand wisdom and consciousness. VERNALTIDE is a walk, measured from the autumn sunset to the autumn sunrise. Then three months: ONEIDINE, OCULINE, and LUNAS. Right now, Oneidine is a confession, made to a friend, truly, an expression of vulnerabililty, and a supplication for understanding and forgiveness. Right now, Oculine is a prayer, powerful enought to be offered throughout the night. Right now, Lunas is a NIGHTWALK, offered up to breath and sky in the rain. We are vulnerable. We are vulnerable. We are perpetually young and innocent, whatever we might say. And so, we arrive at EVENTIDE.

There's one more aspect to this calendar of "EVENTIME" which I add to the conventional calendar and the religious calendar, and that is the NAMING. At EVENTIDE each year is given a name, based on its essential qualities as perceived at the time. (Of course, over time, this means that many names will seem a little overblown or silly, but when we speak sincerely, there is something to be learned). I have also elected to name years in cycles of four and eight.

By my measure, the years of my life are named as follows:

The fourth cycle:
The Year of THE BOSSY BIG TOE (25)

The third cycle:
The Year of DELVING (22)
The Year of THE POWER SACK (20)

The second cycle:
The Year of THE AGIT (19)
The Year of THE BROKEN MIRROR (17)
The Year of THE STORYTELLER (16)

The First Cycle:
The Year of THE MASK (15)
The Year of THE TRAMPOLINE (14)
The Year of SUMMERSEVE (13)
The Year of THE STELLAR FIRE (12)

The first eleven years are considered UNDIFFERENTIATED.


At a number of parties I've been asked what Gothic Funk is.

A comprehensive answer is grounded among historic and cultural forces; it may be verbosely and incompletely but accurately summarized as a retaliation against the soulessness implied by postmodernism that neither subscribes to the naivety and narrow-scope of what is called (these days) the NEW SENTIMENTALITY. That said, there is a more pervasive quality to the Gothic Funk that pervades art and culture of all times here and there. That is the subjection of uncut passion to the barest restraints. Ultimately we are unconcerned with where such passion emerges, or what inconsistencies and mutabilities it attains as a result of the shifting contexts of language. Quite simply, the Gothic Funk asserts that our impulses mean something concrete and that the essential essence of these motive is both communicable and comprehensive. THIS is the "universal" quality of Gothic Funk. It is a refutation of Postmodernism, pure and simple. Gothic Funk states that Postmodernism is, while not bullshit, at this point, a waste of all our time.

As pertains to my own work, the words can be taken more literally. From a western perspective, there is a clear line demarkating the rational and the supernatural, with those commited to "God" throwing it on the side of the "rational" and agnostics and atheists throwing it on the side of the "supernatural." It does not matter. Since passion is the defining quality of Gothic Funk, subjections are insubstantial. My projects straddle the Real and the Supernatural, and derive strength and rigor from inherent contradictions. In fact, stories, characters themes, and truths derive strength and authenticity from their ability to withstand contradiction, and so the deep Christianity at the heart of pagan Euphemism, the horrible writing at the core of Immortality, and the fact that Arkaic does not exist provide these works with both elasticity and authenticity.


Business is the motivating factor in our culture. When Gothic Funk merges with Blue Skies Falling, it will not be as a nonprofit theater group eeking a modest living among the big trees. Rather we will exploit the governing structures and subject them. We will make profit a slave of profit. When the prosperous realize that medicine, money, housing, clothes, and careers for all make them wealthy, even as money makes them poor, our voices will magnify. We become exponential and grow. We stretch and expand and yawn and are not ashamed. We are only in our teens and twenties. Our voice, our sex, and our mind will propell the world for the next forty years. This is a gift. Let us not forget, but use it, and use it for good, wholesome, active good at every opportunity.

Do we believe?

We answer not with words but with breath, and as breath extends to action, may we declare our love through our commitment to the expansion of good in this world, our commitment through our actions, our actions through thought, our thought through feeling, and our feeling through breath. It all comes down to breath.

* * * * *


I have a happy for you for you. I have have a happy for you.

A Simple Declaration


I just want to make it,
but still can "excuse"
by saying
I never want to get caught
by someone who says
"This is something you should have said
but never said,
at least without pressure, pretense, or ceremony,
so that the rest of us might hear."

I love my Jessica
with an ache that tugs me from 5 AM to 4:59:59 AM
and everything in between.

She wakes me in the middle of the night
by flying through my mind when she's not there.

And I know I love her truly.

Because I've been an eager teenager,
and I'm not anymore,
but she still makes me feel alive after five years.

And because I'm not old yet,
but my fingers tingle in anticipation
over ourselves, gray haired and wrinkled,
sharing stories, hot chocolate, tea and moments,
in places and times to come sooner than we'd like.

Never, no nil not poetry zero.
Zip zoom zilch nil nada.

Still. I hear her every night.
I never thought I'd be so satisfied with an echo,
nor thought I'd find such joy in echoing.

The Month of Nimbus


Written in my journal as I watched Leno, O'Brien, and Casablanca, and culled again at 2:06 AM to an uncommon dirge by Ellington. Somewhat trunchated:


I'fe vallen vatally behind, which is not quite fatal.

I yarn pretermint proof rite a urinal Ike alt ha gobbled Richeters.

(Edited due to grossness).


I'm gross.

I haven't written much on Nimbus.
Half of it's inertia (as usual), but half is excitement! It hasn't been more emotional by and far than Noctus* (* a problem I will contemplate), but it has been more energized. My love for Jessica is bigger more wonderful more terrifying always.

A Flint is nesting on the horizon, both bigger and more wonderful than Chicago.

I've been having tea.


Much has happened that a major challange is remembering what happened and when.


blip. Around this time I became obsessed with Tori Amos' BOYS FOR PELE which was an indespensable element of the Year of the Counterflood. I'd listen to Horses, Father Lucifer, and Marianne over and over all night.

I briefly resumed prayer.

Winter Ordinary Time was pulling me.

Nim 5 was Tues so Noc 30 was Thursday. Okay. I'm doing personal archaeology with my blog and journal to reconstruct Nimbus.


I remember that weekend was cold.
I remember we got a good bit of snow.
On that Saturday I might have seen Sean of the Dead with Jessica, Lisa and her friend, Meridith, and some others.

Noctus sometime we had a party at HALLIE's.

The next morning I got to Mass by 12:15.

I'm distracted by Jay Leno which is featuring a man who eats key rings, sugar (that remains dry), numbered coins, fish, and a billiard ball (8-ball). He commands them in his stomach, then "brings them up." Astonishing.

Sunday after Mass we rolled to Blue Island for role-playing. It was fun.


I had to accelerate Eventime work for Noctus (late), Nimbus (on time) and Occludine (early) because of the timing of Lent this year.

I took the El to Argyle, and ate an Anh Lin, then up to Women and Children First to spend ~$100 on books.

I got - A People History of the United States of America by Howard Zinn
- Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago
and I ordered
- Division Street U.S.A. by Studs Terkel

Walked north on Clark to Norwood,
past Patty's house, and on home.
I ate and read and began reading Ehrenreich. We met to plan GFP #4,5.

The weekend. What was that weekend?

Ah: Michigan.

On Saturday morning Jess and I left 8:30, got in at 1:00 ate and immediately fell to eat good food and talk about the wedding.

That night we saw some movie I don't remember, and Sunday, Jess and I went to Mass and drove home.

Nimbus 12 was the music binge. Dr. Wax.

Later that week, Vodka Chess didn't happen but both Skylar and Natalie came over - goods were supplied for Vendredi Gras - Sam and I played video games.

Vendredi Gras. Paul came down.

How did it happen.
On 2/4, mid Nimbus, I got out of work by 5, raced north, and bought stock at the dollar store - beads, lights, and so on.
Lisa came down to help, then Paul arrived, and we rode to Funk w. the snotty bartendress on the red line. But first, Paul and I parked by early and it looked sort of like that picture only with more bricks.

Funk sucked by 12 of us were there, and I had 3 free drinks. We rode back home and I did rotations in the L, then Paul and I left at Bryn Mawr, stopped by his car and I was cold.

But back at Funk, Lisa was w/o ID and wandered off so paul and I looked for her. Without avail!

The party itself a haze. Attendance probably topped out around 30 but a solid 10 stayed all night. Paul crashed in my room, and the GF hardcore crowd converged for Ventredi debauchery.

(None on this, to protect both the innocent and the guilty.)

We got up at 10ish and went to breakfast at the Broadway corner diner.

Jess left for home. Paul and I talked of religion and life, taking the lake to Bryn mawr, and on to Clark and Kopi. We talked until the crowds crushed (the temp. had soared toward 50) and our table was needed. We got my book from W+CF then walked home, listened to CDs and I walked Paul to his car and he left for Wisconsin and I walked home.

It was good to see him.

After Paul left, I took a much-needed nap, but I felt a pain in my throad - that cold was coming on.

Jess and I went to Gemma's birthday party, talked and played Taboo, gave Matt and Meridith a ride home.

Next morning, I was sick as a dog.

Humphrey Bogart is not the World's Most Dangerous Man.

And Casablanca is not the World's Most Dangerous City.

But this kiss may be the last.

It remember, seeing her in 12th grade, at the very top, with dad, and M&Ms, and Princess Di died that night.

Sunday I skipped church, sick, dizzy, moaning, but Jess caed for me, and we saw Monk x 4 and Desperate Housewives x 2.

It was my Favorite Sunday.

Monday at work was sick and miserable.
Back home, my strict diet of OJ, tea, vernors, and Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup.

Tuesday I gout out early.

A week before, Lisa came to visit Sam and I and her ate Okra, talked and watched Cenci, and then Jess was sad, so I asked Lisa to take me to Hyde Park.

Sleep. Soup. Reading.

It was still Fat Tuesday, so I ate Paczkys and drank a lot.
Not wise, but necessary.

Wednesday - mysery.

Thursday - I got out early but my night was not relaxed. I waited 40 minutes for the #147, then ran 2 blcoks for the #6.

On Friday... touble at work.

On Saturday, Jess and I drove down to Ohio, and all in all, it felt like Friday. But Saturday night we rested by night at the J's. Friday night I stayed at home, went to St. Andrews, visited with Sky and Sam, left for Ohio, got in after dark. Jess went to bed and Jeff and I watched Jaws.

Sunday, morning, no Mass. There was no time, among it all. We ate fried checked and Pazckis (from Zanesville). We watched Mass in Notre Dame via TV... as Charles J often did. Then drove out to the funeral home for the showing.

On Saturday night I'd been unable to eat the noodles or soup Mr. J prepared us. But Sunday night was calm and Jess and I sat up and watched SNL.

Monday morning, early, we rode out to the funeral home and processed down to St. Nicholas.

[It was very moving. Especially the "Farewell Song." I know now that I want this song to be used at my own funeral... C.J. was a great man, who raised his family and stood with them across many difficult decades. I have the greatest respect for him.]

--> HOLD DOWN <--

We processed through the rain to Mt. Olive Cemetery, and there with umbrellas and a tent - a seven gun salute - and taps - more rain - Jeff... folded the flag.

We returned to the car and returned to Chuck and Sally's for lunch. Talking, eating, and warming by the fire. And Jess and I stopped back on Brighton, and I drove us home...

Monday had been Hell at work. I spent the last week fully getting over the flu.

On Thursday I attempted (and aborted) an exploration of Armour Square. Lisa, Sky, Nick, Meridith, and i sat in 7 Treasures over 2 hours talking. And then I went home.

On Friday, Jess and I met Tom, my godfather, for dinner. It was good to see him... my closest-to-family in Chicago, and then we raced through errands to G.F.#5, just as it started hopping.

There I saw many friends I see often. I also saw Liz, Armand, Dan and Andrea. And even others. There were over 100 there, bu truly, numbers are nothing. You simpyl haven't lived until you've seen proud and unfamiliar U of C kids pump their fists in the air with fury.

Gothic Funk. Who and where are you? How happens. But how?


Saturday and Sunday were lazy days. Sweet and lazy and sweet and wonderful. And Sunday I went to late Mass and saw Charles and Katie and Josie.

Yesterday. Today. Tight busy with reading.

That's just how it goes.

But it's not Nimbus anymore.

It is now a new month.

This last month then, has had

- a visit home

- MANY gatherings of friends

- much spent on books and music

- reunions with dear friends

- a debaucherous party

- a nasty flu

- warm spells

- Carnival

- Lent

- a funeral

- much reading

- cold spells

- a kickin' party

- laying around, wasting time

Saturday night, Jess and I went to Little Italy for dinner, to belatedly celebrate Valentines day. Here we are.

So you see, I really have been too busy to write much.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Wind and Ache


A Flint Journal editorial: Flint high schools

It's gross. It sticks. And it cannot be avoided.

I've been working on a novel, Urbàntasm, for the last nine years (and probably will be for the next seven). So it goes. But for every high school that closes in Flint, I will kill off a character that would not otherwise be destroyed. Moreover, if the high schools closed are Central or Northern, two institutions that are heart and soul to what Flint has preserved and enhanced from its beautiful days, I will select characters who locate themselves near the reader. So the more it stings for me and my friends, the more it will sting for them.

We're all watching our schools close these days. So I wonder, where do all the people go?

~ Connor

Occludine 3, 27.


- I was going to get a bunch done last night, but didn't get out of work until late, and didn't get home until around 7:30. I did a little reading, a little writing, and a little corresponding re: the old gradschool apps.
- The highlight of the evening, however, was standing on the shore of Lake Michigan, on the Thorndale beach. The low, cold fog gave everything a somber, eerie cast... to the south Lincoln Park flared out, with mossy gray trees hemming in the dim and distant Loop with its thousands of eyes, and yellow lamps swirled in the waves as if the lake was an oil slick. Then to the north, high-rises sprang out of the water, buckling and curving along the coast towards Rogers Park and Evanston. And then out, the horizon was discernable, but only as a region, as a place where one rumbling gray crawls slowly into another.


Obscured. Also here.

New York Times: Latin America Fails to Deliver on Basic Needs

Foggy Chicago, Downtown.

From Sherlock Holmes to Adrian Monk, and everything in between, which imaginary detective would you want working your case?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Occludine 2, 27.


- Happy Presidents Day. Let's not be bitter. Let's remember George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry, Truman, John F. Kennedy, give a breath for Bill Clinton, and keep faith for all the great presidents we might see in the future.
- Well, it's official. This has become this, and will eventually become this. I've come to hate the Trump International Tower and Hotel at a level on par with Flint's Genesee Towers, though for vastly different reasons, and this has been the subject of numerous conversations with Skylar. Specifically, I hate the building for what it's going to do to the riverbed, hate it for its disruption to the skyline, but most of all, I hate it for sleek arrogance and callousness. The Trump tower rises against the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, and the IBM building which each (even the latter), in their stoic restraint and solidity are a testament to the power and weight of institutions. Yes, institutions can be tools of good or evil, but in it's steel sheen and glass, northern curves and southern planes, Trump will seem to be a testament to money. Institutions toward money. It seems regressive to me. Chicago's skyline is more formica and drama queen each year.
- My weeks off to a good but busy start. Hopefully, I maintain both balance and momentum. How are you today?



BBC News: Second step in Aceh rebel talks

Chicago 2035. jntolva. From the movie I, Robot.

Rocky or Bullwinkle?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Blog Games, January


Amber discovered the following constellation:






I accidentally edited over the entry for last Friday.
The country of the day was Eretria and the question of the day was what African city would you live in. Answers to the question are still posted in comments.


~ Connor

Friday, February 18, 2005

Occludine 1, 27.


- CALL FOR PHOTOS! There are now half-a-dozen of us that have taken pictures of the five Gothic Funk parties to date. If you email me the photos at connot at, I'll create a gallery!
- Gothic Funk Party #5 was delightful. Colin's place on S. Hyde Park has, of course, evolved over the years into a facility uniquely suited for such gatherings (if you ask him, he can tell you some stories of the past). An astonishing number of people actually arrived wearing scrubs, masks, surgical gloves, and accoutrements. There were also a few med school students. At least four groups performed, ranging from improvising DJs to the half-pop, but everything I saw was cool. The main act, Zinc Finger and the Major Groove, a group of med school students that rap about med school, managed to get more fleshy U of C hands in the air than I've ever seen... which is always a good thing. Attendance topped 100, and with a lack of excessive drunkeness, the party was a definite contrast with #4. The was, however, more dancing.
- The 3-6 inches of snow failed to materialize in Chicago. Evidently, it was just a little too warm, and so it rained instead. It is, however, snowing over the entirety of Michigan and Wisconsin, and even Chicago's northern suburbs. So it goes.
The next several days will bring similar temperature, but less precipitation.



The New York Times: Bush Begins to Seek a Thaw in a Europe Still Cool to Him

Spectre. RPG Gamer.

Do you believe in ghosts? Describe the nature of your dis/belief.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Nimbus 28, 27.


Several wholly unrelated comments:
- Several adventures are in the works. If you want to explore Armour Square with me this evening email me at connor at If you want to get together in Hyde Park for a Lenten meal tomorrow, email me at the same address.
- Yesterday, in my post about abortion, I mixed up pro-Choice and pro-Life, which would have let to some very unusual statements. It's fixed now. It's strange, but I make that error often in such conversations. Wonder if it means anything...
- News of the Day is not wholly encompassing... it's based what jumps out at me first, with a mind for full variation between the local and the global. I don't really think that the Flint sesquecentennial is a bigger deal than the Prime Minister of Lebanon's assassination or the impending demise of the NHL.
- On that subject, Word of the Day typically comes from a search engine, Picture of the Day and Question of the Day are defined by flashes of inspiration. Country/State/Neighborhood of the Day alternate with a mind for variation, but within their own categories are randomly determined.
- We seem to have settled into a semicloudy pseudoWinter; the highs each day are above freezing and the lows are below... behavior I'd rather postpone 'til March, but what can you do... in Chicago?

Last night, the elevator broke in my building between the 7th and 8th floors. Sam's friend Bill was in it at the time. We tried several things to get him out, banged on the door of our building's manager, and ultimately had to call the fire department to get him out. They arrived in a fire truck and blocked off Kenmore with sirens flashing. They stomped in wearing coats and carrying axes, and locked down the elevators, opened the door, and pulled Bill out above a five-foot opening into the empty shaft. It was sweeeeeeet!
So if you come over to visit, watch the elevator.



New York Times: Allies Resisting as U.S. Pushes Terror Label for Hezbollah.

Beirut at Night. Monica Getzova's Beirut Journal.

Where were you in '92?

Today's Adventure: Armour Square


Assuming I'm not totally exhausted tomorrow, and most likely even in that case, I will be exploring Armour Square for my novel Euphemism.
Anyone who is interested may come along... just email me to set up a rendezvous. I expect to be headed out around 5 PM. If all goes well, I'll spend a few minutes at Comiskey and Wentworth Gardens, then pass through the eastern part of Bridgeport on the way to Chinatown. Chinatown will be the bulk of the evening.

Here's a Yahoo! map I tweaked, for those of you interested in the layout:

The following is excerpted from The Encyclopedia of Chicago edited by Grossman, Keating, and Reiff:

The Armour Square Community Area illustrates the difference between a neighborhood and a community area. This long thin area (an assemblage of leftovers from adjacent community areas, 21 blocks long, 4-5 blocks wide) is wedged between rail lines, expressways, and the South Branch of the Chicago River. It contains three distinct neighborhoods. African Americans dominate the population to the south; the middle section holds recently arrived Hispanics; and along with a few Italians and blacks, Chinatown fills the northern section.
Armour Square has been, from the beginning, principally a working-class area. Germans and Irish arrived during the Civil War, and later, Swedes joined the population. These groups used the area as a way station as they moved southward and climbed upward in social and econmomic status. Armour Square lay south of the burned area during the Chicago Fire of 1871 but was nonetheless greatly affected by the disaster. Laws enacted after the fire required brick or stone construction in the central city. The resulting increase in costs drove many working families out to the edge of the "brick area," and Armour Square received many such families. Armour Square subsequently lost blocks of housing as the tracks of bordering railroads were elevated. These changes cut off the area from neighborhoods to the east and west.
By 1899, Italian immigrants arrived and formed the Roman Catholic parish of Santa Maria Incoronata. Commercial operations began to displace housing in the area. Some of the encroaching businesses were extensions of the notorious Levee district just to the east. In 1909, Charles Comiskey built a new baseball park for the Chicago White Sox between 34th and 35th Streets. The old Sox park then became home to the American Giants of the Negro League. In 1991 the White Sox moved into a still newer stadium just south of the onld Comiskey Park; the Negro Leagues having long since vanished.
Around 1912, Chinese living in an enclave at the south edge of the Loop began a mass movement southward. The Chinese encountered severe racial discrimination, however, and were forced to do business through an intermediary. The H.O. Stone Company acted on behalf of 50 Chinese businessmen to secure 10-year leases on business in the new area. Chinatown became a major tourist attraction boasting an impressive entrance gate and many other distinguishing features.
As the city's "black belt" began to expand during World War I, African Americans moved into Armour Square's southern section, numbering about 4,000 by 1930. This figure remained stable through the Great Depression and World War II, until, in 1947, the Chicago Housing Authority completed Wentworth Gardens at 37th and Princeton, and the neighborhood reached an all-time high population of over 23,000 with blacks making up nearly half the total. Later, widespread demolition made way for construction of the Dan Ryan and Stevenson Expressways and their interconnecting ramps, which set off a continuing decline in population.
In 1999, the Chinese constituted over half the area's population. The Chinese were moving west into Bridgeport and a rejuvenated Chinatown continued as a major tourist attraction with many shops and famed restaurants. An outside investor from Hong Kong developed Appleville apartments, and a consotium of Chinese businessmen and local banks developed Chinatown Square and Jade City apartments. A new Chinatown Park was under construction along the river. Adaptive reuse of old structures, nearby infill housing, and the recently enlarged McCormick Place to the east added energy to the area. David M. Solzman pp. 39-40.

More information available upon request.

~ Connor

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

More on Abortion: The Pro-Life Angle


A few months ago, I wrote this post on my feelings about abortion from a tortured pro-Choice angle.

I suppose, then, that this would be a companion piece... a self-counterpoint. Because last week I described myself as pro-choice with reservations, today I'm pro-life with reservations, and next week I'll swing back.

The pendulum keeps turning.

The fact is that I have a difficult time settling anywhere on this issue, firmly. From both theological and philosophical perspectives, it's really the perfect empirical dilemma... that is, it's a case in which most of us recognize the absurdities at either extreme, but there is a persistant lack of a reasonable dividing line.

I think almost all of us would agree that the Catholic church's stance on contraception is somewhere between misinformed and absurd. I think (and certainly hope) we'd agree that partial-birth abortion is a barbaric, monstrous practice, really separated from infanticide by only the barest of technicalities.

All this said, is there a clear dividing line? Is there a point that makes intuitive sense... where we can say that at this moment we have a jelly, and at this moment we have a human being? I don't think so. On either side of the dividing line, what we have is essentially the same: not a mere jelly, nor a complete human being, but a human being in progress.

And my staunchest pro-Choice friends would argue with me perhaps, but I think that means something. If it looks like a human and moves like a human and responds to sustenance like a human and grows like a human than...

* * * * *

My cardinal objections to the pro-Life movement are well-known among my mostly pro-Choice friends:

1) A mother should be able to trust her society not to abandon her and her children to poverty. But pro-Life voters often support the rollback of welfare benefits, and are opposed to Universal Health-Care.

2) A mother should be able to raise her child in a society that respects the burden of parenthood and is not judgmental; in short, that supports us in our daily struggle to live and raise a family. But pro-Life voters are often drawn from social conservatives, who will react to an unwanted or unsanctioned pregnancy with sharp repurcussions.

3) A woman should have viable alternatives to pregnancy, outside the (often religiously particular) insistance upon abstinence; not desiring an abotion should be as convenient, anonymous, and dignified as possible. But pro-Life voters often vote also to make contraception unavailable... they won't allow, or will discourage use of, everything from condoms to the morning after pill, even if withholding such options will result in an abortion further down the line.

4) Sometimes, pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, but pro-Life voters are typically unconcerned with the conditions that breed rape and incest (ranging from poverty and poorly funded education on down to, once again, adequate social programming). Nor to abortion activists tend to pursue the enforcement of fatherly obligations (financial and otherwise) with the enthusiasm that they attend to the issue of abortion.

* * * * *

But I've said these things, and you've heard me.

It's with some reservation (or, I guess, anticipating a sharper rebuttal) that I'll make some arguments from the other side:

5) What is this assumption that women are always pressured into having children? Certainly, where a family has the means to get an abortion, and anticipates a continuing economic obligation to a mother, women in many cases are pressured into abortions. What makes this situation any better?

6) Remember, we don't have Universal health care... women of lesser means are often unable to afford an abortion while more affluent groups can cover it. Abortion not only increases class inequality, but it means that the stigma of single motherhood continues to fall disproportionately among less affluent groups.

7) With the availability of Ultrasound technology, many families may ascertain the gender of a fetus with the intention of aborting it if it is female. Fetuses are also aborted because they may have disabilities or will be developmentally disabled.

These are largely circumstantial objections. My big objection, however, is universal, not circumstantial, and grounded in an understanding of what is a life:

8) The only difference between abortion and infanticide is a line we assign along a continuum, with some necessary arbitrarity, of what is a human and what is not. There is no clean answer. There can be no clean answer. But killing something that has been growing and living for many months... that has fingers and toes and brains and the ability to feel and think... that's too close for comfort.

* * * * *

Policy wise, there are many compromises that can be made, and should have been made. Enough pro-Choicers admit that abortion is undesirable and enough pro-Lifers want passionately to reduce abortion that many concessions should have been passed long ago. An increase in human services and improvements in health care would automatically reduce the number of abortions, and as expectant mothers had more options, late-term abortions could be more reasonably curtailed, restricted, and prevented.

But none of these concessions have been made.

It's an argument in which most of us stopped listening to the others a long time ago.

* * * * *

In the past, the sum of all my statements have been generally pro-Choice, but today I'm moving along the opposite current:

There is too much that is human in the unborn to sanction her execution without horror and hurt.

Moreover, I've no shortage of friends with messed-up families, backgrounds, and lives. But none of them, I think, would choose death as an alternative. At some point the struggle became their struggle, and they've chosen to own it.

Maybe that's the key question to answer:

At what point do we earn the right to own our own struggle, where the alternative is no struggle at all? At what point does that responsibility become our right?

~ Connor

EDIT: I'm guilty of a couple unfortunate typos (mix-ups of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, that doubtless made this post very confusing. I've corrected these.

Bored, anyone???


For the bored...

1. Help me put together an updated verse of "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel. Same rhythm. Same duration. We can run 1985 to present. Should be plenty of material.

2. As you may know, this Friday is Gothic Funk Party #5. This is, however, also Lent, and Friday is a day of prayer and fasting for Catholics. I'd like to invite anyone interested (Catholic and non) to a simple meal at my place... let's say at 7 PM.
I'll be fixing a vegan Eretrian dish... I think the most outrageous ingredients are onions and green pepper. It's important to RSVP if you think you want to come to this one, so I'll know how much to buy.

3. Tomorrow, Thursday, I'm going to do some exploration for my novel, Euphemism. I'll be exploring Wentworth Gardens and Chinatown and everything in between. If you'd like to meet up, let me know and we can set up a rondezvous.

~ Connor

Gothic Funk Party #5: MEDICAL MELTDOWN

... ... ... ... ... the Occlusion Group presents ... ... ... ... ...

.... --- .... GOTHIC FUNK PARTY #4 .... --- ....

... -- ... The MEDICAL MELTDOWN ... -- ...

-- _* Brace yourselves, tout le monde, and don your goggles, lab coats,
tap shoes, and feather boas, ?cause there?s going to be a PARTY
(show)PARTY in Hyde Park on Friday, February 18th, and you?re all
invited?yea, urgently desired?to attend. On that most excellent
eve, the Occlusion Group and the Gothic Funk Initiative will en-
treat you to elevate your heart rate with the vocal talents and
ipod-driven beats of:

The Illustrious Mr. GABE McELWAIN (c. 9:30)

The Inimitable Mr. LOREN JAN WILSON (c. 10:30)

The Mind-Blowingly Medicinal ZINC FINGER AND THE MAJOR GROOVE (c. 11:30)

-- _* Arrive at 8:00 pm to indulge in good company and your choice of a
special selection of stimulants, depressants, and stuff located
way up high in the pointy part of the food pyramid. Please be ad-
vised of the dress code (see below) and the mandate to move your
feet to the beats.

.. --- .. FAQ .. --- ..

?Where the hell is it??

5509 S. Hyde Park Blvd. #3 (Look for the buzzer labeled "Moomers.?)
Rumor has it there?s actually a stage...

?What the hell is Gothic Funk??

Sponsorship, mayhem, tribute, parties...What is it not? The manifesto, in all of
its rhetorical glory, may be found at:

Or, if you?re so inclined, you may search your deepest self for the answer...

?What on earth will I wear??

Here?s a rubric regarding the dress code:

Naturally, on this occasion, we especially encourage the presence of doctors,
nurses, candy stripers, and mental ward escapees.

?How can I make this thing even more freakishly awesome than it?s already
bound to be??

First, you can BYOB. We?ll get you started, and we?ll provide mixers, but
your habits will probably outpace our provisions (you lush, you). So bring it
if you?ve got it!

Second, feel free to contribute to the theme in any (safe) way you can imagine.
Have you been hiding your glorious medical illustrations in the basement, for
fear of the all-seeing eyes and pitiless mouths of critics? Did you steal a
gurney from the hospital during last year?s Scavhunt? Bring it if you?ve
got it. Also, anyone with an intimate knowledge of Hyde Park music, Gothic
Funk, and/or the wide world of medicine is encouraged to submit multiple choice
questions (and answers) to, for inclusion on the impending

This PARTY is graciously brought to you by: the Occlusion Group, available at

Nimbus 27, 27.


I got up ten minutes early today, and it allowed me to have a morning cup of coffee. I cannot say what a difference this makes.
With Gemma's eloquent comment on pizza, I should comment that I wasn't aiming to be provocative per se... rather I was having some trouble coming up with a question on the spot. That said, I'll continue this strain today (to vegetarians' dismay).
Is the warm snap finally ending? January thaw transitioned this year into the Tropics of February, and right when winter was off to such a promising start. I'm not down with subzero gray versus fuzzy fat snowflakes, but I'll take either over the baking we've received these past several days.
Happy belated Valentines day. I love you!
Mercury was in conjunction with the sun on Monday. But we couldn't see it. Stupid bright sun.

Democratic Republic of the Congo.


New York Times: For Democrats, Rethinking Abortion Runs Risks.

The Colonial Coney Island. The Flint Public Library.

What's the best variation on a hot dog? Chicago dogs, coney islands, and chili dogs all qualify. If you prefer coneys, stipulate whether you prefer the Detroit coney (wet) or the Flint coney (meaty). Both have their fans...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Nimbus 26, 27.




Flint Journal: Parade to offer glimpse of past, future.

Fountain of Suntec City, named "Foutain of Wealth". kinthiam.

Chicago-style or New York-style (Pizza)?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Nimbus 22, 27.


The last several days...
Yesterday I was able to squeak out of work murderously early. 11:30. After prepping today. I caught the 147 immediately, and made it home before noon. On any other day, my plan would've been to take the Red Line to 35th and spent the afternoon exploring Armour Square... photographing the Dan Ryan, Sox Park, and Chinatown. Capturing the leftover luster of Chinese New Year.
But I'm still sick, so instead I went home for an afternoon of soup and sleep.
Jessica's grandfather passed away yesterday. I can say it was my great pleasure to have known this man. He was in his nineties, and still a fierce advocate of the Buckeyes on every occasion. He has been in the care of family, and they have been blessed with his company these final weeks. We can only hope to be surrounded by such love...
Jessica and I will be traveling to Ohio tomorrow for the funeral, which will take place on Monday. I do not expect to post again until Tuesday.
This is a strange, oneiric year for the world.
Expected calamaties are forwarded along unexpected lines.
Wouldn't it be ironic if the world stops turning via our entanglements with a Communist power in a "post-Communist" world... while, in the meantime, a lasting peace is acheived between Israelis and Palestinians.
On the one hand, don't hold your breath. On the other hand, don't be surprised, don't shield your eyes.

Montserrat (Territory of the United Kingdom).


BBC News: Japan urges calm on North Korea.

The Pacific Ocean from space. NASA.

If you knew the world was ending in twenty-four hours, what would you do?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Reflections on HIPAA from Ash Wednesday


The title is deceptive. This is neither a theological nor a "career update" post.
Rather, it's just an attempt to recognize coincidental symmetricality.

Today, the Flint Journal published an editorial responding to recent actions by the Uncommon Sense.

Before I even read the editorial, I was struck by how extraordinary this event must be. With a daily circulation of over 100,000, and having bought out the Advance Newspapers which provided the only other weeklies in-county, the Flint Journal has a virtual monopoly on print media. The paper itself vascilates in quality from day to day. On the one hand, several writers produce regularly good columns, and the editorial board is generally well-informed and provocative. On the other hand, actual coverage tends to prefer the cute and poignant over the newsworthy, and stories are generously sprinkled with bad puns and incorrect attributions.

This provokes no lack of resentment among Flint's independent press. The city is nothing if not political, and has always featured an array of often mediocre left-leaning independent publications. They refer to the Flint Journal as the "urinal," which squarely ignores them, but you never expect to see one directly mentioned in print by the other.

Hence my suprise at the Journal's editorial.

The Uncommon Sense has emerged the last two years as one of the most successful and compelling independent publications in Flint.

So, whence this indirect endorsement?

* * * * *

Warning. This is going to become an exercise in how a problem becomes very complicated very quickly.

Evidently, in its present issue, the Uncommon Sense describes its recovery of abandoned medical records from Flint's last Delphi plant scheduled for demolition.

Delphi was a spin-off of General Motors electrical systems, and has gradually downsized or outsourced their Flint work for years. In recent months, Delphi announced the closure of their last facility in the city (also a historic site, a key battleground in the 1937-38 Sit-Down Strike) and their relocation of their world headquarters to another location.

This is the context, then, in which the Uncommon Sense came into possession of sensitive medical documents they allege were left at the demolition site, incuding X-rays, names, and social security numbers, among other information.

The Uncommon Sense has not explained how, specifically, they retrieved these records. I suspect (I have my sources) that someone was exploring the old factory and simply picked them up off the floor.

At this point, the chronology is a little unclear, but here's what I undertstand from contrasting the two newspapers and following the links they provide. The Uncommon Sense notified Delphi that they were in possession of the records, then set about writing a piece on corporate irresponsibility. As they finished this article, Delphi representatives arrived to retrieve the documents, but were refused. These details made it into the Uncommon Sense.
On the 2nd, Delphi issued this letter demanding the documents' return.
On the 3rd, the Uncommon Sense's Chief Editor submitted this Health Insurance Privacy Complaint and posted this bulletin.
Finally, today the Flint Journal published its own editorial, urging the Uncommon Sense prudence in returning the documents to Delphi immediately.

I should also note that, while the most sensitive information has been held back, the first and last names of employees have been posted on the Uncommon Sense's website, and the jounral implies that these individuals have been contacted.

I was right about one of my first assumptions... it took an important and tangled affair for the Journal to acknowledge the Uncommon Sense.

* * * * *

To tell the truth, I don't know much what to make of this. Working in the hospital for so long has given me a comprehensive understaning of at least some parts of HIPAA... I know, for example, that all patient medical records are to be out of a public viewing area and also that we are never to call a patient by their last name in earshot of other patients. I do know, admittedly, know how these rules apply to corporations or to individuals or organizations as pertaining to "found items." It's also not lost on me that the Uncommon Sense has obtained legal counsel.

I can say, without hesitation, that it is certainy unethical that the Uncommon Sense would release the names of individuals in a public forum, and whatever dubious goal such display might have, it is making the Delphi employees even more vulnerable than they were in the first place.

I would also venture to say that, whatever the Uncommon Sense's stance may be, the record were released to Delphi and only Delphi with consent. However egregious neglegence may have been, the Uncommon Sense is bound to return the documents immediately.

In the end, I am inclined to agree with the editorial in the vanilla-flavored Flint Journal. The Uncommon Sense performed a valuable service (and one local mainstream media shies away from) by uncovering an abuse of privacy on the part of Delphi. Still, by retaining documents to which they have no right and abusing the information contained therein, the Uncommon Sense compromises both its argument and its integrity, however noble its intentions may be.

I'm only acquainted with the surface aspects of HIPAA. I would be very interested in what Tom or some of my fellow hospital-workers might say about this matter.

~ Connor

A Brilliant Quote


And a little fun...

Let’s see, a Japanese animated program featuring robots and humans where the lines between the two are blurred, and in the end we must ask ourselves whether it is not we who are the robots? That’s not exactly blazing any new trails here. Indeed, anime in general has beat that horse to death, then resurrected it as a cyborg, then beat it to death, then blown it up. And don’t even get me started on hearing creepy little girl voices saying, “taskete” (“help me”) over and over again. SO played. -- Christian

Nimbus 20, 27.


Not only was yesterday Mardi Gras; it was astronomical fireworks. There were conjunctions of Neptune and Mercury, Neptune and the moon, and the moon and Mercury (what Dragonlance fans would call the "Great Conjunction"), the moon and the sun, and Jupiter and the moon at Trine. None of this (of course) was visible from cloudy Chicago.
A Chicago!
At a sweet twenty-seven degrees, it's is winter once more. The break was nice, but so is the return. Right now the wind is blowing outside and dry dusty little flakes are sparking down.
By the way; Happy Chinese New year, and Happy Ash Wednesday.



New York Times: Baltimore Streets Meaner but Message Is Mixed.

Chinese New Year Fireworks, Hong Kong. (

Which Fraggle is most consistant with your personality?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Reflections on Sin from Fat Tuesday


I was originally going to write seven installments on sin; one for each of the original sins.
In the end, I did exactly none of them. It turns out that I said everything worthwhile I had to say on the subject in the original post. The issues of sins, virtue, and contradiction have also been deftly handled from outside the faith in this post by Amber, and from within it in this post by Damien. I felt that they both clarified for me several things I've felt to be true, but have been unable to express.

So where does that leave me?

Well, with just over five hours left to Fat Tuesday this Central Standard Time, it means that if I have anything risky to say about sin or indulgence, I'd better get to it.


In my earlier post I tried to describe a productive or useful sin. At the time I felt, though I didn't say outright, that what I was trying to describe was actually a "good sin." This should raise all sorts of warnings. Contradictions may be a fun and fruitful source of conversation, but by all rights this contradiction is crippling to discourse. Culturally, we understand sin as equivalent to bad or evil. Sin is sunderance from God; it is that which cannot be good. To say that it is not is to either 1) deliberately rebel against what is good, or 2) debase the meaning of the word to such an extent than any dialogue must be circular.

I believe, at least, that any recursive logic must draw these conclusions.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sin as follows:

Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine, Faust 22: PL 42, 418). It is an offense against God. It rises up against God in a disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ.
Sin is an act contrary to reason. It wounds man's nature and injures human solidarity. (1871-1872)

If we allow the Catechism's definition as the most comprehensive and historically based (which I'm prompted to do, anyway), then there is no circumstance in which sinning is consistent with the will of God, no circumstance in which it is the "right" thing to do, and no circumstance in which it is rational, sustaining, or helpful.

We can say, then, categorically, that "good sin" does not exist.

I'm going to stand by the idea I've described, however. Maybe my terms were just a little mixed up. Maybe the contradiction isn't quite as damning as I thought. Maybe we can even fix it with just a pair of quotation marks.


As interpreted by the Catechism, the survival of an idea of good "sin" is now completely dependent on what one considers "eternal law." This is, itself, really thorny, and I wouldn't survive five minutes in a theological debate on the subject. That said, if we are absolutely reductive, and condense "eternal law" to the Two Commandments Christ delineated as most essential: loving God with all your heart, and loving your neighbor as yourself, yet rigorous on that point, I believe I can make a case for good "sin."

I'm calling a good "sin" an act that would be correctly categorized as sinful, but motivated by the spirit of love and connection instead of malice or dolor.

It's hard to feel guilty. If we are raised properly, we develop a sense of self-worth that makes us active and positive forces in the world around us. If we are faithfully religious, we live in the assurance of God's or gods' love, and if we agnostic or atheist, we can boast that the good we perform is not guaranteed with the promise of eternal compensation.
Moreover, because of the discomfort guilt creates, we often go to great lengths to avoid it. Small guilts may be shouldered aside, but they're always the mustard stain on the white shirt, and we're always aware of them. Persistent guilts disable our ability to concentrate on anything else. Old guilts haunt us for the rest of our days. And heavy guilts... they can choke us, hide us, deceive us, starve us, and even kill us.
So between our proclivities to feel good, and our desire to avoid guilt, most of us succeed in staving it off most of the time. And this is a good thing, on the whole, for we are the most alive, in ourselves and in God, when we realize the beauty of all Creation.
If endemic guilt results in paralysis, then self-assurance has its own nasty side-effect: complacency. If we are entirely content in our behavior, if we truly believe that we have met all of our responsibilities in the best possible way, then we delude ourselves because the best we do is never the best that could be done.

When the tsunami happened, I found myself dwelling on it for days and days. I realized that, simply by being born who I was and where I was, I had largely been excused from ever having to worry about such a calamity. I realized that, while I routinely spend dozens of dollars on fast food, music, and public transit, a few dollars could bring fresh water to communities in Indonesia, India, or Sub-Saharan Africa. And I was not raised to feel guilty for being who I am (I've always felt that "liberal white middle-class guilt" does far more damage than good). Nevertheless, the discrepancies in life on this planet should escape the boundaries of my mind and tear at my soul. The injustice of the event should be painful.

It didn't hurt as much as it should have. Somehow, living in a world where travesties and calamity stomp all over our daily news, one becomes emotionally detached very quickly.

I felt compelled to seek out tsunami jokes. I felt compelled to spring them upon unsuspecting friends, and even post them on this blog. And in the end, I can apply the second part of the catechism's definition. Whatever concessions or apologies I've made, whatever allowences I built in, it was an act contrary to reason, it wounded human nature, and injured human solidarity. It may have even risen up to god in disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ. I believe this, and I feel regret. I sincerely hope that my comments have not caused anybody pain.

And yet... I believe the action was, ironically, and starlingly, motivated by love. Now that several weeks have passed, sick on Mardi Gras, my action makes me feel small and responsible, humble and helpless, and hopeless without the stirring of God's breath, and useless without the support of all the humans around me.

Since committing that sin, I believe I've been a better human being.

It's a good "sin" that reminds us of our weakness and vulnerability without depriving us of our dignity.


Recently, I was divided from family members over the results of the recent trouble in the Ukraine.

Several in my family had said that a successful democracy does not teeter on civil war whenever there's an issue at stake. I responded that a state that does not execute the will of its people as defined by law is not a democracy at all. I implied that the resolution of the Ukrainian presidential election was more "democratic" than America's.

To be fair, my family had some reasonable concerns; very high on the list, the fact that a large number of nuclear warheads are floating around that part of the world, and might be impossible to track in the event of a civil war. And for that matter, atrocities occur, but its not as if Belarus has imploded yet (though it is an "outpost of tyranny" c/o Condoleeza Rice).

Certainly, it seems like an assertive people demanding their voice is a chancey prize to set against the threat of genocide, instability, and possible nuclear war. But then, I look at history; events such as the victory of the Greeks over the Persians or the American Revolution. A reclusive Milan might have been spared the Black Plague, but it certainly wouldn't have kicked off the Renaissance. A prudent Paul would've preached in Jerusalem.

It seems like many of our finest moments are the result of long-shots; of risking long-odds with uncertain or unintended consequences. We go into Fat Tuesday, into Carnival, into Mardi Gras and indulgence with a knowledge of what is clearly unacceptible but a willingness to throw caution to the wind.

Tomorrow, facing Lent, may we see ourselves more deeply, that we may emerge at Easter not as whole as we once were, but more whole than we've ever been before.

Happy Mardi Gras.

~ Connor

Nimbus 19, 27.


I got a good natured ribbing from some of you in the comments... nevertheless, I'll attempt to defend myself as best I can.
Cinders writes: "Sorry your under the weather but damn, exposing everyone at work, too. I'd shoot your ass!!!"
Ordinarily, I would too, but there are several mitigating factors:
#1. This is a hospital. At any given time, half of the people here are sick. It's no surprise, given the number of sick people lurching about, coughing and rubbing their hands on counters, tables, chairs, magazines, and papers that we all pass back and forth.
#2. My boss is notorious for making people come in even when they're sick. My favorite example was one week she made a phone rep come in who had come down with Conjunctivities (Pinkeye), a highly contagious, gross, and uncomfortable affliction of the eye. We work in an Ophthalmology clinic. While I can't be "fired" there is the possibility that my assignment would be terminated.
#3. I work for a temp agency. They do allow 3 "sick days" per 6 months, but to discourage absenteeism, we're never paid for any days on which we don't physically come in. So any time I call in "sick," its costing me $70... pretty powerful incentive to just work through it, when you're saving for a wedding and grad school.
#4. I'm not an asshole. Yesterday I washed my hands about a dozen times during the day, always carried tissues and cleaned my keyboard and mouse with Alcohol pads.

This is an appropriate segue into Damien's benign comment: "I am too discreet to ask if this has anything to do with Friday's party..."

#5. is... I don't... think... so... I certainly indulged myself last Friday less than most of my guests (they'll groaningly testify to this). But it might still be that one night of abandon was the great opportunity for a cold I've been staving off for weeks. Who knows?

So, last night I did exactly what I planned. I had a big bowl of Chicken Noodle and wheat bread, lots of OJ, tea, and Vernors. I went to bed at 8, woke up briefly to watch the opening monologues of Leno and Conan, and slept well through the night. In fact, I overslept an hour and got to work 15 minutes late, which means I may now be in trouble. *Sigh*.



New York Times: Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Meet for 1st Time in 4 Years.

The Carnival in Rio. From the World Travel Gallery (

Is there a television commercial that elicits an over-emotional response from you? What is it?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Nimbus 18, 27.


Well, firstoff, this usually happens once in February/March, once in March/April, and once in October/November, and that is that I get sick as a dog. I've been fortunate this year to have missed out upon the latter two last time around, but I knew I was in trouble the moment I woke up yesterday.
Headache! Congestion! Dizzy Spells! Ohh. I feel like some creature that exists for no reason other than to ooze and feel miserable for itself.
I came to work, though. Having a slew of scary expenses upcoming certainly changes one's perspective on these things.



BBC News: Tourism revival key for Maldives.

A slug

What's your favorite kind of soup?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Nimbus 17, 27.


I feel like a zombie.
I think I've got a bad cold... I'm all congested and have a headache.
Or, of course, it's just an initial symptom of my turning into a zombie.
Brains. BRAINS!!!



New York Times: Inmate's Rising I.Q. Score Could Mean His Death.

Big and Tall Adult Costume: ZOMBIE

Where were you in '02?

Friday, February 04, 2005

A Pointless Aside: Coleman vs. Kwame


Some of you may be aware of the current Detroit debacle. The city's foundering financially, literally on the brink of bankruptsy in a way that looks bad even from Flint, and in the midst of this, Mayor Kwayme Kilpatric is taking a lot of (well-deserved) flak for covering up a loadedluxurysuv the city bought for his wife.

The mysterious writer of Detroit Blog calls to mind the "good ol' days" of Coleman Young, who was to Detroit what J. Daley came to be to Chicago. When criticized for flouting the expensive blue Cadillac in which he was chauferred throughout the city, Young replied, "You want a Cadillac mayor, you buy him a Cadillac."

While the Socialist in me chafes at this sort of logic (the same logic that allowed Flint Mayor Don Williamson to repave his own street when most of the ciy sports potholes you could house families in), I find it infinitely preferable to Kilpatrick's lies and posturing.

About as preferable, frankly, as a Cadillac is to a Lincoln Navigator.

~ Connor

Nimbus 15, 27.


I didn't post yesterday, even though over sixty of you came by to say "hi."
And I haven't posted much of substance lately, except for the occasional "comments" in the daily post. (I did tell you about a party to happen tonight: it will be sweet. And I did post two new links: they are sweet.)
If you want to know the truth about yesterday, I was exhausted, and sick, and working through most of the afternoon on my University of New Orleans app., and most of the evening on the Gothic Funk party, and my sweetie was having a bad day, which inevitably makes me sad.
But I have a very good feeling about this party tonight. Almost as if there will be surprises... unintended surprises... good surprises. Maybe Andy Kaufman's ghost is floating about here somewhere...

The Community of Arkaic.


BBC News: Seoul drops 'enemy' tag for North.


Which moment out of your daily routine would be most ideal to be sampled in a movie about your life? It could be chosen for any number of different reasons (eg. because it's revealing, dramatic, funny, etc.).

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Open Bar Downtown before Party No. 4


from Skylar:

this is sky. whether you know me or not, on friday before GOTHIC FUNK #4 [Vendredi Gras], you should pretend to. a club called Funk Groove Bar drew my name after i went there once, so this friday i & "my friends" get in without cover from 8-11, & have an open bar from 9-10. these people are way too excited to whore themselves out, & when i inquired about limits, i was told to bring as many people as i want.

we are planning to be there only for the hour of the open bar; arrive at maybe at 8:50, empty their stock, & then exeunt at 10, to ride the Red Line to GF4. being gold coast, its normally an overpriced joint. sam & i werent exactly swept off our feet, or onto the dance floor, by the music when we were there, but at least it isnt one of the bad-80s clubs surrounding it. if 5 of us are there, abusing their hospitality, we will be assholes, flat out; if 20 or 30 join us, we will hold a corporate indemnity, & we will consume a far more impressive quantity.

aparently, everyone who fills out a slip eventually wins - sam has a friday of his own in his pocket. if you do come, just be sure to tell the doorman you are with sky or skylar. i would like to stress the convenient proximity to the Red Line @ Clark & Division - dont get smashed, & then drive to edgewater [there isnt really parking, anyway.] if people want to go with connor & sam to meet at my place first, we can arrive with some presence. if you cant make it, well... youll have some catching up to do later.

viva la rotacion!

Funk Groove Bar
5 W. Division St.
[basement level, below The Leg Room & Bar Chicago]

Gothic Funk Party No. 4


The Occlusion Group Presents
an event · an exhibition · a party

G o t h i c F u n k P a r t y # 4
~ in lovely EDGEWATER BEACH ~

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4th from 10:30 PM
5820 N. Kenmore Ave. #801

+++ Easily accessible by the Lake Shore Drive or the Red
Line! +++ No cover! Free food and drinks! Free scandal!
+++ Stay the night if you like! +++ (Hot toddies and
hot chocolate will be provided in the wee hours) +++

Party Information at

Gothic Funk Information at

Occlusion Group Information at